Serving the Super Fan was a common theme among last week’s SF Music Tech Summit panelists, entrepreneurs, and attendee’s alike. With the topography of the music industry shifting seismically, maintaining your competitive edge can be a daunting challenge. More and more bands are turning to viral marketing by way of their fans. How? By turning events into experiences.
Not to bring up Taylor Swift, but to bring up Taylor Swift, she brilliantly executed an exclusive fan experience dubbed the “1989 Secret Sessions”. She invited hundreds of fans to her home for cookies, movies, and a sneak peak of the album a month before it was released. It didn’t cause an upheaval of her life, an enormous amount of money, or a lot of her time, but for the hundreds of Swift fanatics that got to participate, it was a dream come true. Investing in the cultivation of fan experiences doesn’t have to cost you anything, but you do have to make an effort to capture the additional profit waiting in the wings.
So if you’re not Taylor Swift and your band is traveling fourteen hours a day with little or no time in between, how do you accommodate these experiences? You make time. It is an investment in your career and in the future success of your band – so, as the panel at SF Music Tech unanimously stressed – make it work. Schedule around it. Make engaging fan experiences a mandatory part of your routine. If you only have 15 minutes before a show to do a meet and greet, do it. You won’t get to everyone, but it will make a difference to the people you meet.
How do you access the right fans? All of the major streaming services may have the data necessary to facilitate targeted outreach to fans, but how much are they willing to share? Panelist Hany Nada of GGV Capital posed the question, “When I like an artist on Pandora or add their song to a playlist on Spotify, why am I not getting a message from the band with upcoming shows in the area?” From the artist’s perspective he proposed, “Instead of giving me $0.0009 per play, give me that fans email address. Let me know when they like my song. Let me know how often they play my song. Tell me where I should play my next concert. That’s worth far more than a $300 check I’ll get in a year from Spotify.” In a perfect world, this kind of collaboration between streaming services and artists would take place – but in the real world, you can always result to asking your fans. After all, no one is more equipped to tell you what they want than they are.
When was the last time you signed a tab chart of your new single and auctioned it off? Have you tried inviting any of your fans to a Smule collaboration? How much is that handwritten set list from last nights show worth to you? Probably not as much as it’s worth the Super Fan who bought a front row ticket the moment the show went on sale. The monetization of peripheral content is not a new concept, but it’s becoming a new necessity. 100% of your fans probably aren’t going to jump for a $250 pass to the private session you’re playing before an arena concert, but there are 8-10% of Super Fans will not only jump at the chance, but will be the first to blast all over social media how incredible their experience was. What are you doing to turn your events into fan experiences?
When the panel was asked by an audience member “What can you do as an artist to create these experiences for your fans?” Dan Berkowitz of CID Entertainment hit a home run: “You could really care. You could care about that experience just as much as the fans do. When we work with the crew at Coachella, it’s a family. We love what we do. We pour ourselves into it and it shows. You have to love what you’re doing and you have to be engaged authentically with the people who are showing up. That’s how you make the difference.”
Jimmy Chamberlin from Smashing Pumpkins / LiveOne Inc. presented a personal mantra to the group as a charge to the SF Music Tech Summit attendees: “It’s that 10% extra effort that makes it 100% better than anything else.”
Ladies and Gentleman, a theory worth testing. Go forth and make the difference.